Relay for Life raises fund to continue cancer battle


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By Jennifer Ortiz
Staff Writer

HOWELL — It is said that hope is being able to see the light despite the darkness.

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On June 10, the Howell High School football field will illuminate the night sky in that spirit. White luminaria bags will be set up to spell out the word “Hope” and they will line the track during an American Cancer Society Relay For Life event.

Relay For Life is an overnight community fundraiser that will begin at 5 p.m June 10 and end at 5 a.m. June 11 at the high school, Squankum-Yellowbrook Road, Howell. Teams of people will camp out at the football field and participate in activities throughout the night.

The goal of Relay For Life is to raise money to support programs that assist individuals who are battling cancer.

“It is an experience filled with celebration, entertainment and remembrance … People of all ages are welcome to participate and fund-raise for the event. (Cancer) survivors and caregivers are encouraged to come as well,” said student Rachel Ottman, who is chairing the “Bring the People” portion of Relay For Life.

Student Mollie Wurmbrand is chairing the “Build the Fun” portion of Relay For Life. She said the event will have karaoke, Zumba, a Miss Relay pageant and more.

Ashley Patterson, a staff partner from the American Cancer Society, said the Miss Relay pageant represents the mission of the “Look Good, Feel Better” program which is supported by the cosmetics industry in cooperation with the cancer society and the Professional Beauty Association, a national organization that represents hairstylists, wig experts, estheticians, makeup artists and other professionals in the cosmetics industry.

“We provide free wigs and makeup kits for cancer patients, which is something really amazing,” Patterson said. “That is what Miss Relay is supposed to represent, ‘Look Good, Feel Better.’ We try to incorporate our mission throughout the night with different things we do.”

Relay For Life will feature a volleyball match pitting police officers vs. firefighters.

“We have the police officers and firefighters play at midnight usually and they really get into it. Last year, I was sitting there for two hours scoring their volleyball match because they would not give up … it’s a lot of fun because it gets the community involved. It’s great to see them all play,” Mollie said.

She said Mayor Bill Gotto has been involved with and supportive of the Howell High School Relay For Life event.

Student Kiana Stockwell is chairing the “Fund the Mission” portion of Relay For Life and said residents of all communities are welcome to attend the event.

Anyone interested in participating in Relay For Life can register up to the day of the event at

Kiana said money can be raised through bake sales, by approaching business owners and seeking support, or by asking friends and family members for donations.

Team members will take turns walking around the track during the night.

Last year, Howell’s Relay For Life attracted about 900 participants and raised almost $86,000. This year the organizers are hoping to raise $94,000. The money raised will support programs such as the Hope Lodge and Road To Recovery.

“Oftentimes the best place for treatment may be in a big city. The Hope Lodge is a free stay for the cancer patient and their caregiver while the individual is undergoing treatment,” Kiana said.

Road to Recovery helps cancer patients travel to their treatment appointments.

“Anyone can come to Relay For Life. We encourage people to raise as much money as they can. You can also sign up as an individual participant,” Patterson said. “Our events run on volunteers. We can’t do it without them and it is great to have student involvement. It is very important that we speak about the mission because that is why we are all here, because we all believe in it.”

Kiana said Relay For Life is powerful because the participants are able to see how so many people are connected to the battle against cancer.

“We have our luminaria ceremony where we shut off all the lights and have all the candles lit and we walk the track in a lap of silence,” she said. “Right after that we have the fight back ceremony that is supposed to symbolize everybody getting back into the spirit of the relay, ready to walk the track all night and to stay up all night. It is a great way to great everybody’s energy back up.”

The best part, according to Mollie, is watching the luminaria bags go from spelling the word “Hope” to spelling the word “Cure” after the ceremony.

Patterson said that is a beautiful sight and it encourages everyone to join the fight against cancer.

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